The City of Nanaimo, B.C., awarded funding for the Hub City Walls project through its Downtown Event Revitalization Funding program and partnered to offer three city-owned concrete walls for painting by local muralists.
Hub City Walls is a project designed by local non-profit organization Humanity in Community to promote Nanaimo as a cultural hub, support local artists, foster community pride, and rehabilitate urban spaces.
Originally planned as a larger event with multiple mural painting sites, music shows, live demonstrations, a pop-up art market, and other activities, organizers Lauren Semple and Lys Glassford adapted the festival to align with provincial health guidelines around COVID-19. They scaled their project plan to focus on the creation of three murals in prominent locations in the Arts District downtown.
Three local artists were selected from more than 30 submissions: Kara Dee Harrison, Russell Morland (aka Lurk), and Austin Weflen. The walls were identified by Semple and Glassford, who are keenly focused on urban rehabilitation through public art—they honed in on under-utilized and under-loved areas.
Harrison’s painting appears on a concrete slab embedded into the cliff face near 151 Front St. Her playful design features characters inspired by local marine life in her signature colours, turquoise and gold.
Morland painted a wraparound retaining wall in the parking lot at 95 Cavan St. Morland’s work ranges from detailed, psychedelic paintings and illustrations to digital drawings and collaborative products like skateboards, shoes, and more. He draws inspiration from the worlds of lowbrow, street art, skateboarding, and board games.
Weflen’s painting can be seen at 119 Skinner St., at the Bastion Street parkade. He is a lettering and design connoisseur and is passionate about creating large-scale artwork with brushes, pens, and aerosol cans.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with these talented artists and watch them take their designs from paper concepts to large-scale murals,” said Glassford. “My goal for 2020 was to curate a diverse selection of new styles and genres for Nanaimo locals and visitors to enjoy.”